By Andy Hampson, PA
Erling Haaland hit his fourth hat-trick of the season as champions Manchester City maintained their Premier League title hopes with a comfortable 3-0 win over Wolves.
The prolific Norwegian’s treble took his goal tally for the season to 31 in all competitions and carried City to successive league victories for the first time since the World Cup.
After a scrappy opening, Haaland headed City in front five minutes before the interval and doubled the lead from the penalty spot after 50 minutes.
He claimed a third four minutes later and then, with his job done, left the field just after the hour.
City’s victory, coming after Thursday’s dramatic fightback against Tottenham, kept City firmly in the title picture and further eased concerns about their form after indifferent results earlier in the month.
It took time for City to get into their stride due to Wolves’ rough tactics, but their victory was ultimately a convincing one.
Phil Foden did not appear in City’s matchday squad but Kevin De Bruyne was back in the side after being left out in midweek.
City needed to be patient early on. It was evident, after some grappling in the box twice delayed City’s attempts to take a corner, that Wolves wanted to constrain and frustrate their hosts.
Max Kilman was booked for a heavy challenge on Ilkay Gundogan and Mario Lemina, on his full debut, and manager Julen Lopetegui also received early yellow cards.
City gradually adapted with Haaland and Jack Grealish both having shots saved by Jose Sa before Rodri fired just over.
Their breakthrough came late in the first half when De Bruyne stood up a cross to the far post and Haaland rose to nod home.
City wanted a penalty soon after when Grealish went down under a challenge from Nathan Collins but referee David Coote and VAR Darren England both spared the Wolves defender.
Collins frustrated Grealish again soon after when he cleared his powerful shot off the line.
City were awarded a spot-kick early in the second half after Gundogan was felled by Ruben Neves and Haaland made no mistake from 12 yards.
Haaland punished Wolves further in the 54th minute. Sa gifted possession straight to Riyad Mahrez, who moments after going close himself when he headed into the side-netting, quickly laid off to the striker.
Haaland could not miss from in front of goal and peeled away to celebrate yet another goal before making way for World Cup-winner Julian Alvarez.
Wolves showed some spirit with debutant Pablo Sarabia having an effort blocked by Nathan Ake and Daniel Podence extending Ederson.
City threatened more but Mahrez was denied by an offside flag, Alvarez could not get round Sa and Gundogan headed over.